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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Taco Eating Challenge at El Loco, Surry Hills

El Loco taco challenge

Most people celebrate their first birthday with cake and one candle. El Loco celebrated theirs with a call-out for their first ever taco challenge - how many tacos could you eat in half an hour?

What is it about competitive eating competitions that brings out the voyeur in all some of us? In a world plagued by  both rising obesity and starving children, excessive consumption should not enthral... but it reels in so many of us. Is it the everyman dream - that any person, athlete or couch potato, has a chance to claim victory, buoyed only by confidence and mind over matter? Is it empathy and commiseration? Few of us know the true pain of running a marathon but everyone knows that wall you hit at the all-you-can-eat-buffet when bile threatens to triumph over greed.

Josh Vs Food at the El Loco taco challenge
Josh Vs Tacos

A group of us headed down to support Josh in his latest eating mission. He was already complaining he was hungry as soon as he arrived.

El Loco taco challenge
Ten taco commandments

The ten taco commandments were reasonably comprehensive, issued to every competitor along with a numbered bib. A total of 72 competitors registered, with eating to be conducted over two heats. By 7pm the place was heaving.

mystery taco and hot dog at El Loco, Surry Hills
Mystery taco $5 and hot dog $9

How can you watch a taco competition without eating one yourself? The mystery taco turned out to be liver, backed up by a cheese-strewn hot dog and a couple of Coronas.

Maude Garrett at the El Loco taco challenge
Maude Garrett, taco comp MC

Former 2DayFM presenter Maude Garrett was MC for the night, an entertainment highlight with her wacky running commentary and random interviews. Quote of the night: "I don't care how much your junk hurts, you cannot stand up!"

Maude Garrett at the El Loco taco challenge
Maude showing competitors the recommended way to eat a taco

What's the best way to eat a taco? Maude had no hesitation in demonstrating, stuffing an entire taco into her mouth.

Maude Garrett at the El Loco taco challenge
She got style!

Respect, sister. This is a woman who can also eat a cheeseburger in one bite.

El Loco taco challenge
It's taco time!

Game on! The challengers went out fast, demolishing the initial basket of tacos within minutes.

El Loco taco challenge
Taco challengers

Evidently the kitchen underestimated the eating speed of competitors as tables were left waiting for taco refills.

El Loco kitchen
Taco line in the kitchen

Or maybe this was part of the plan, thwarting the old 'eat fast before your stomach tells you you're full' strategy.

El Loco kitchen
Need more tacos! (Hi Dan Hong!)

The kitchen was swamped though, dealing with both customer dockets and taco challenge supplies.

El Loco taco challenge
Got chilli?

And here's where things got interesting. Competitors were warned that some tacos may contain chilli. Which may or may not get hotter with each round.

El Loco taco challenge
Water. Will. Not. Help.

By the time heat two was in session, it looked like the tacos were getting spiked like crazy. The winner of heat one, Moesha, cleared 13 tacos. In round two, Sammy soon became the last man standing.

What kind of heat are we talking about? Before the competition we'd had a chat with Dan who revealed he'd gotten his hands on a bottle of Mad Dog 38 Special Pepper Extract. This bad boy packs a whopping 3,000,000 Scoville heat units. To put this in perspective, Tabasco sauce sits at 3,500 Scoville units. Thai bird's eye chilli is 50,000. The habanero is 100,000. One chefs confessed "I had one drop of it. And my mouth was burning for thirty minutes."

El Loco taco challenge
Pain. Definition: see Sammy's face

Sammy's taco boat tally stood at a thirteen. Despite only one taco standing between a tie and outright victory, Sammy looked ready to throw in the towel. But don't ever underestimate peer pressure.

There is nothing quite like watching a mob of Sydneysiders descend into a boozed-up American frathouse chanting "EAT ONE MORE! EAT ONE MORE" with bloodthirsty urgency.

El Loco taco challenge
One small bite for man

And so Sammy tried to eat one more.

The crowd erupted.

El Loco taco challenge
Justin Hemmes with the winners

He couldn't finish it. But he's still a winner! He shares the winner's glory with heat one winner, Moesha.

El Loco taco challenge
Sammy and Moesha, joint title-holders of the first ever El Loco taco challenge

And what happened to Josh? He managed eight tacos before a particularly nasty chilli taco did him in.

El Loco taco challenge
El Loco manager Elise Reynolds with Justin Hemmes and the winners Sammy and Moesha

Congratulations to the winners Sammy and Moesha and props to all the competitors, especially you Josh!

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El Loco on Urbanspoon

El Loco at The Excelsior Hotel
64 Foveaux Street, Surry Hills, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9211 4945 (No bookings)

Opening hours:
Monday and Tuesday 12pm until late
Wednesday 12pm-1am
Thursday to Saturday 12pm – 3am
Sunday 12pm -10pm

Related Grab Your Fork posts:
El Loco, Surry Hills (Aug 11)

Mexican - Dos Senoritas, Gladesville
Mexican - Flying Fajita Sisters, Glebe
17 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 5/10/2012 02:07:00 am


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